Room of Heliodorus

This room was originally used for the private audiences of the Pope and was decorated by Raphael immediately after the Segnatura. The room's programme is political and aims at documenting, in different historical moments from the Old Testament to medieval history, the miraculous protection bestowed by God on the Church. Faith had been threatened (Mass of Bolsena), in the person of its pontiff (Liberation of St Peter), in its site (Encounter of Leo the Great with Attila) and in its patrimony (Expulsion of Heliodorus from the temple). These were also chosen to express the political programme of Julius II (pontiff from 1503 to 1513), aimed at freeing Italy, at the time occupied by the French, to restore the temporal power under threat to the papacy. The four episodes of the Old Testament on the ceiling are the work of Raphael, while in the grotesques and in the arches there are still some parts that can be attributed to Luca Signorelli, Bramantino, Lorenzo Lotto and Cesare da Sesto. They date to the first decoration commissioned by Julius II at the beginning of his pontificate, that was interrupted and then replaced by the present one due to the pontiff's great admiration for the first frescoes of Raphael in the adjoining room of the Segnatura.